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Cancer Theranostics Innovation Center

CEPID 2023-2028
Site: www.cancerthera.org.br/ 
Director: Prof. Dr. Carmino Antonio de Souza
Deputy director: Prof. Dr. Celso Dario Ramos
Innovations coordinator: Prof. Dr. Carmen Silvia Passos Lima
Knowledge dissemination coordinator: Prof. Dr. Elba C.S.C. Etchebehere
Executive manager: Prof. Dr. Sara Teresinha Olalla Saad
Innovations manager: Prof. Dr. Pedro Paulo Corbi
Knowledge dissemination manager: Prof. Dr. Bárbara Juarez Amorim
State University of Campinas's Blood Center (HEMOCENTRO/UNICAMP) 
Rua Carlos Chagas, 480
13083-878 - Cidade Universitária, Campinas
School of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa de São Paulo
São Carlos Institute of Chemistry of the University of São Paulo

BV-FAPESP: research projects supported in this Center 

CancerThera in the Media: news about the Center


Cancer is a major global public health problem and is among the leading causes of death. The identification of new agents for the diagnosis and treatment of patients with tumors is highly desirable. For many centuries, metals have been used empirically to treat various diseases. Currently, metals and their compounds – stable or radioactive – are applied rationally in neoplasms.

The "Center for Innovation in Cancer with Emphasis on Metals and Theranostics (CancerThera)" will develop research, innovation and knowledge dissemination activities for the creation of new metal-based drugs and radiopharmaceuticals for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. It will also study new uses for known radiopharmaceuticals. It will bring together researchers from various areas of knowledge, including Clinical Oncology, Onco-Hematology, Chemistry, Nuclear Medicine, Pharmacy, Statistics, Biology and Physics, adopting an innovative model in the country, to become a world-class center in the study of cancer.

The research will be divided into two interconnected arms: Basic Research and Clinical Research. The two arms will develop convergent projects, producing internationally competitive research and training highly qualified human resources in the creation, manipulation and diagnostic and theranostic use of metal-based drugs and radiopharmaceuticals.

Basic Research: from bioactive molecules, such as nucleotide analogues and semicarbazones among others, new metallo-drugs with action potential in the diagnosis and blocking of tumor cell replication will be synthesized. New metal chelation systems of the type bis (semicarbazones) and bis (thiosemicarbazones) will be emphasized. These and other chelators will be conjugated with several peptides related to the tumor microenvironment. The compounds will be radiolabeled mainly with the gallium-68/lutetium-177 pair – which respectively enable the diagnosis and treatment (theranostic) of neoplasms – in addition to other radioisotopes. The biodistribution and anti-tumor action of the compounds will be evaluated in several preclinical studies, including gamma counter analyses, images in micro-PET/SPECT/CT equipment, assays of antiproliferative activity and cell death in tumor cell lines and in inflammation/gene expression assays of toxicity and efficacy in animal models.

Clinical Research: simultaneously with the basic arm, possible new uses for molecules already known, such as the prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA), but which will be used only in non-prostatic neoplasms, and the fibroblast activation protein inhibitor (FAPI), will be evaluated. With the existing radiopharmacy infrastructure in the host institution, currently in addition to the current international project, several radioisotopes will be used to mark these substances that will be tested in the diagnosis and possible treatment of various neoplasms. Multiple myeloma, indolent lymphomas, colorectal cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, squamous cell carcinoma of the head/neck and skin, and Ph1-negative chronic myeloproliferative diseases (mainly primary myelofibrosis) will be initially studied. The genetic analysis of the catchment lesions will be made.

There will be constant interaction between the basic and clinical arms of CancerThera, in an unprecedented model in the country in this area. Thus, the radiopharmaceuticals successfully produced in Basic Research will be used in phase 1 and eventually phase 2 clinical studies. And the study of new applications of drugs already known will have the radiolabeling monitored by researchers in the basic area. To ensure the appropriation of the results by society, different actors and institutions will be connected: researchers, students, research institutions, national and international funding agencies, small and large companies, governments (state and municipal), the press and society.